Blogging is one method for people to use social media to communicate their ideas with the public. Since personal blogs have enjoyed popularity, businesses, both small and large, can capitalize on their success. In 2009, Chua, A., Deans, K., & Parker, P discuss the whether or not blogging is an effective tool for small businesses. The research article Exploring the Types of SMEs which Could Use Blogs as a Marketing Tool: A Proposed Future Research Agenda, weighs how small businesses can use blogs to promote themselves and increase their profits. Blogs allow individuals to post entries containing information on their businesses. Blogs can be used to build better relationships with customers, as they are social, interactive, and encourage group participation and dialog. The purpose of this article is to improve research on marketing strategies with blogging for on small-and medium-sized businesses. Most of the marketing research has been focused on larger corporations and certain characteristics, such as lack of resources, must be accounted for when considering marketing plans for small businesses. Blogs have been successful with large corporations as marketing tools to support branding, niche marketing, and gathering marketing intelligence. The authors seek to apply these same principles so they are more appropriate for smaller businesses.
Certain internal and external characteristics of small businesses may predict if blogging will be a successful marketing tool. Owners and managers of small businesses who are younger, more educated, and have a positive attitude towards technology may be more successful with blogging. Other features for predicting success with blogging include owners and managers who are more entrepreneurial and prioritize business over their personal life. Employees also contribute to a small business’s blogging success if they are comfortable with technology, knowledgeable with the different areas of marketing, and if they are provided an environment which encourages the use of social media. The study concluded that blogging can provide some small businesses with the opportunity to engage in promotional strategies such as branding, building a trusted reputation, niche marketing, gathering marketing intelligence, and establishing an online presence. However there were no definitive answers if blogs were effective marketing tool for small businesses in general. “Based on the limited research in this area we argue that the suitability of blogs for SMEs will most likely depend on the specific internal and external contexts of an SME, and also on the marketing strategies and processes which the SMEs are using (if at all) or trying to achieve” (Chua, A., Deans, K., & Parker, P, 2009). The authors recommend that further research be conducted to measure the effectiveness of blogging for small businesses in general. The authors make suggestions that small businesses use blogs and various other forms of social media to gather market intelligence and use more automated marketing procedures. Research on website content analysis would provide better understanding of the types of industries and businesses which would be the best suited for blogging. The results show how a comprehensive research agenda can be formed which recognizes the heterogeneity of small (and medium) sized businesses and that it is dependent on individual cases.
Tuten, T., & Ashley, C. (2011) discuss in their research article Promotional Strategies for Small Businesses: Group Buying Deals, how small businesses can use social media to offer group buying deals to better promote their businesses. Group buying deals, or collective buying deals, offer consumers discounts for local businesses if a specific number of people purchase a deal prior to a set expiration date. Both small businesses and consumers benefit as small businesses are able to profit on the high volume of customers, while allowing the consumer to save money. The study examines how consumers value these group buying deals and how their repurchase intentions and positive word of mouth can benefit small businesses.
Group buying deals are able to create a high volume of sales in a short time period due to the access to large numbers of potential consumers, the scarcity and time-sensitivity of the deal, and the social environment which is promoted. These deals offer a high volume of sales in a short time, are affordable, and encourage socialization. Because group buying deals rely heavily on the Intranet and social media for success, they may be beneficial to small businesses as marketing tools. Groupon and LivingSocial are examples of popular websites which promote group buying deals for small and local businesses. These websites distribute group buying deals to their community members through email, mobile channels, and online news feeds in social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. The authors quote another study by Dholakia (2010) which explains that social media avenues such as Facebook and Twitter encourage people to use group buying deals and they are spread virally through updates and “tweets” as friends and family are encouraged to “tip” the deal, and allow for the minimum number of purchases to be made. The scarcity and time sensitivity of these offers encourages a higher demand. Consumers are also encouraged to interact more with their friends and family, whether in person or on social channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Group buying deals do not always guarantee success for small business marketing. The costs for promotion do not always cover the revenue and the potential consumers may not be return customers. The authors discuss a study by Dholakia (2010) where 150 businesses had used Groupon and for marketing; 66% of the participants found this tool to be profitable, as they were unable to experience repeat customers. For example, while spas were successful with Groupons, restaurants were primarily unsuccessful; the authors attribute this to servers not providing the same quality of service, and Groupon customers not providing adequate tips. The results of the study provide insight for small businesses as to how consumers view and value group buying deals. Group buying deals are successful for businesses that focus on luxury, such as spas, and those with low marginal costs. Another factor which must be accounted for is the mindset of workers to still provide exceptional customer service, even though their products are being discounted. In order to experience a positive return, consumers must be satisfied and provide positive word of mouth.
In order for group buying deals to be successful, a large number of people must purchase the deal. People are swayed by a deal’s popularity and also its scarcity. The scarcity principle works by creating a sense of urgency for consumers to hurry and pre-purchase the deal before the offer expires. The authors use the equity theory which proposes the costs of engaging in a deal are weighed against the benefits, resulting results in a judgment of value.
The purpose of the study is to establish the forms of value which the participants associate with the group buying deals and to establish the relationships between perceived value, satisfaction with the deal, attitude toward the act, and subsequent behaviors. The intent for return business and positive word-of-mouth is also evaluated. Small businesses should consider the many influences on customer satisfaction when establishing specific tactics to increase repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.
Social media can be an effective tool for small businesses to use in marketing because they have access to fewer resources than larger companies. Small businesses can use the Intranet to advertise, establish a brand, and interact with consumers. Even though they may not have the financial resources or high number of employees to whom they delegate responsibility, small business can “even the playing field” in the marketing world. Social media in general enables small business to build relationships with consumers to reach as many people as possible. Both articles examine two different strategies which small businesses can use social media to promote their organization. The study conducted in 2009 focused on how small businesses can profit from the use of blogging. The results were questionable and it was concluded that the profits which occurred from blogging were more dependent on key characteristics of the particular business. In just two short years, another study, conducted by Tuten, T., & Ashley, C assumed that blogging was routine and focused on how small businesses could use group buying deals to enhance their business. Group buying deals, such as a Groupon and LivingSocial were successful in their promotions because of their use of social media. These authors assume that both small businesses and consumers were already familiar with social channels such as Facebook and Twitter and that blogging would be a routine part of any marketing strategy. Both studies indicated that while social media was a great way for smaller businesses with limited resources to promote themselves and establish a solid brand, the businesses must contain certain characteristics or else the energy put into the social media marketing would be a waste of time and not generate a profit. Both blogging and group buying deals enable businesses to interact with their customers and also customers to interact with each other.
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